C.L. Max Nikias

President, University of Southern California

C.L. Max Nikias, president of USC, also holds faculty appointments in both electrical engineering and the classics. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He also serves as chairman of the PAC-12 Conference and the College Football Playoff board. 

Enjoy most: Interacting with students and parents – this is where I get the most direct feedback about what we’re doing right and where we may need to improve.

Toughest challenge: We eclipsed the $6 billion fundraising target we set for ourselves in 2010. When our campaign was launched, at the height of the global financial crisis, many analysts doubted our ability to reach our target.

Proudest moment: When we officially open USC Village, a 15-acre extension of our University Park Campus. USC Village is the largest single expansion of our university and the largest development in the history of South Los Angeles.

Best advice: The most important foundation of any organization is built on attracting and developing the best available talent.

Beverage: With my schedule, the most important beverage is water! Between football games, alumni receptions, business travel, and – when I have a chance – cycling and skiing, staying hydrated is a top priority!

Car you drive: Since I became president, I’ve been fortunate to have a driver to take me to and from campus and to and from the various events.

Alma mater: MS and Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo.

Fun fact: A lot of people are surprised that I’m on Instagram (@uscpres), which I enjoy tremendously as a platform to share behind-the-scenes moments from my life and work.

Bucket list: I hope to write a book on “leadership through the Greco-Roman classics,” and to visit Sicily.

Hobby/passion: My wife and I love cycling, and we do as much of it as we can, especially on weekends and during holidays. In the winter, we are avid skiers.